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New treatment for addressing chronic pain

The new method of pain management has been developed by a company called BioDelivery Sciences International, Inc. The process aims to provide long-term opioid treatment in situations where alternative treatments are not effective. In most cases, patients are taking daily doses of 160 milligrams of an oral morphine sulfate equivalent, which carries side effects and where the dosing is hard to control.

The process is called BEBUCA™ (buprenorphine) buccal film, and it is designed for daily use. There are various dose strengths and the product reportedly has fewer side effects than with other opioid-based products.

What is special about the drug delivery system, is that it consists of a small, ‘bioerodible’ polymer film. This film is attached to the mucosal membranes (inner lining of cheek). The film can rapidly deliver a dose of drug across the mucous membranes, and overcomes the problem of poor oral (pill) absorption or where an intravenous drip is not practical. The system is also time sensitive, meaning the dose can be controlled.

Opioids are substances that act on opioid receptors to produce morphine-like effects within the human body. Some types are natural, whereas others are semi-synthetic and synthetic drugs. Opioids are effective for the treatment of acute and chronic pain (including pain following surgery.) The main side-effect is nausea, and opioids can become highly addictive.

The new technique has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This followed a trial where the opioid administration was compared against a placebo in a clinical trial.

On launching the new method, Dr. Mark A. Sirgo, of BioDelivery Sciences International, told Pharmaceutical Processing: “We are very pleased that BELBUCA is now available and provides an important new alternative for the millions of individuals who suffer from chronic pain.”

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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